On Assignment: Balloons!

by | Aug 4, 2023 | Assignments | 0 comments

Last week, I meandered through the Exhibit Hall at the Southeast Homeschool Expo. At big events like this, I try to talk to as many vendors as I can. If I can find out what kind of photo needs they might have, I can turn them into the monthly Shoot to Serve Photo Assignments! The August assignment was supposed to launch in exactly 1 week, and at the moment, I didn’t know what publisher we were going to be shooting for. Things were getting down to the wire.

I happened to walk by a lady who was dressed in colonial garb. I smiled and said hi since I recognized her from the previous day when we were both setting up our booths. I asked why she was all dressed up, and she proceeded to tell me all about the historical fiction books she had written and was selling at the Convention. At some point in the conversation, the subject switched over to Lenspiration. I told her about the family-friendly photography training we offered and made sure to conclude my spiel with something along the lines of, “…and if you ever find yourself needing some custom photos, just let us know!”

A light turned on in author and speaker Cynthia Simmons’ eyes. “Balloons! Can you take pictures of balloons for me?”

And that’s how it came to be that on Monday I was filming the following demonstration video for this month’s photo assignment!

I was grateful for an assignment that was very specific yet so colorful and easy to be creative with! Knowing that Cynthia would be using the photos to illustrate the idea of “Lift Up Your Family”, I figured I’d better pursue balloon ideas that told that story. I visualized perspectives along the lines of looking up at a bunch of helium balloons on strings. However, we had a bunch of regular balloons already on hand. So we decided it would be better to come up with something with those instead. My visualization changed now to a little person reaching up into the air with balloons falling all around them.

So, with that in mind, we blew up a ton of balloons and stepped outside!

230731_James Staddon_7109 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 70 mm, 1-200 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 200

As you can see, what I got with the first lens wasn’t bad. But I felt like I wanted more separation between the girl and the background. So I moved from a 70mm lens to a 200mm lens to get a more background blur. And that worked!

230731_James Staddon_7133 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 148 mm, 1-200 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 200

But my little subject wasn’t doing what I was hoping. Dropping the balloons from the porch just wasn’t working very well.

So we moved over into the sunlit spot in the yard and played with the balloons that hadn’t popped yet.

230731_James Staddon_7187 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 70 mm, 1-800 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 200

The lighting was epic! But the consistent popping of balloons made the subject’s countenance more serious and cautious than giggly and glowing.

230731_James Staddon_7135 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 70 mm, 1-400 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 200

230731_James Staddon_7142 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 70 mm, 1-400 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 200

Plus we were all getting hot, so we stepped inside.

230731_James Staddon_7198 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-60 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 200230801_James Staddon_7354 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-60 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 320230801_James Staddon_7366 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-60 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 200

The inside photos were fun. But they weren’t what I was envisioning. The textures were interesting, but the feeling was static. So that’s why I was excited when I got the idea late that night to photograph the balloons from underneath!

The next day, I pulled out the largest piece of glass we knew existed around the house, and tried to set things up the best we could. But I ran into a lot of problems. First, the wind required a lot of tape, which meant a lot more Photoshop work than expected. Secondly, the direct light created a ton of reflection in the glass. Using a kiddy pool to block some of the direct light helped, as you can see in the second photo below.

230801_James Staddon_7383 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 16 mm, 1-250 sec at f - 8.0, ISO 100230801_James Staddon_7384 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 17 mm, 1-250 sec at f - 8.0, ISO 100

But the amount of time it would take to perfect this angle just wasn’t possible that day. So, I’m leaving it to you guys to pick up where I left off and get the better photos I was hoping for!

It’s Your Turn

So, it’s your turn! Run with the same ideas I had, or come up with some of your own ideas. Be sure to get the details for the assignment, "Balloons", first! Cynthia will be so excited to see what you all are able to come up with!

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